Artist, Not Telepath

I’m a professional illustrator. I try to act like one.

Not, mind you, that I’m not a petty small-minded weirdo on my own time, but when the jobs come down, I’m all business.

This, however, has gone too far. In the interests of what shreds of professionalism I maintain, I shall name no names of companies or games, but I’m about at the end of my rope. I have never bailed on a pro assignment before, but they’re testin’ my resolve sorely.

This is the best example, although by no means the only one, and only the fact that the art director is firmly on my side and keeps apologizing profusely, and more importantly that a buddy of mine works there, keeps me from tellin’ ’em where to go.

The description I was sent was “small, fox-like agricultural pest.”

I drew two foxish animals and sent them back.

Weeks later, I got notes back saying “Too fox-like. Also, they have six legs.”

I double-checked to make sure that the whole hexaped thing had not been mentioned in the original description–it hadn’t–and sent back saying “If it’s not a fox, then what is it?” (The art director went to bat for me on this one.) I was pretty frustrated by the whole thing–I mean, for god’s sake, if it has SIX FREAKIN’ LEGS, you mention that in the description!

More weeks passed. Clarifications were sought. Notes were sent.

The thing finally came back with a terribly crude illustration, and the notes–It’s a dragon. Crossed with a hyena and an anteater. With a pointed tail. Starving. Not at all fluffy. With three eyes. (It’s worth noting that the crude illustration does not have three eyes.) And–this is important–it shouldn’t look at all like a fox.

If this was a client on a private commission, I’d refund their money and tell them to go to art school and draw it themselves, ‘cos I’m an artist, not a frickin’ telepath.

As it is, after I screamed about the three eyes for a bit, not to mention all the rest, I felt I had to vent. Small fox-like agricultural pest. If any of my readers ever have to write descriptions for an artist for a game, please, remember this post and Tell The Artist What It Looks Like. The artist cannot pluck it from your brain, fully formed. If it has a weird number of legs, the artist is not going to know that. And if it has extra eyes, you might wanna mention that the FIRST time it comes back for revisions, rather than much, much later.

This is only one example. We won’t talk about the undead that were skeletons, but then weren’t, but might be, but sorta like Dawn of the Dead, but now not, but might be again. No, we won’t talk about that.

But I’m a professional, I feel for the art director, and I don’t want to bail. I expect a certain amount of revisions. But we’ve passed the point of absurdity and gone into the fields beyond, and my resolve is starting to waver.


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